My oldest children can now vote so I guess it is fair to say that I am an experienced mother. I know how to get ketchup stains off white furniture. I can stretch a pound of hamburger and $2 worth of macaroni into a family meal. I can clip another person’s fingernails while they eat breakfast. These are worthy skills because there is seldom a week in my house when something red doesn’t land on something white, a herd of children don’t spontaneously appear at suppertime, and at least one pair of small fingers doesn’t require a bit of maintenance.
As an experienced mother, I have come to know a lot of things that you can’t learn from a book or a website or even a youtube video. For instance…
- Monsters are afraid of nightlights. And slightly open bedroom doors.
- Wet sidewalk chalk sticks to pavement way better than dry chalk. So well, in fact, that it may still be there weeks later… so don’t draw a picture of your sister picking her nose.
- There is nothing on a dinner plate that a child will not eat… so long as you bury it in melted cheese.
- Food should never be used as a reward to children… unless you need to (a) get out the front door quickly, (b) survive in a shopping mall, or (c) do anything else that takes more than ten minutes.
- There is nothing you need to do so badly that it cannot be put off for five minutes. And five minutes is all it takes to scare away a monster, admire a chalk drawing, melt cheese, or share some candy.
Being a mother is like sailing through the perfect storm. You need to keep your eye on the horizon, have confidence in your abilities, and forgive yourself if you get pushed off course now and again.
It’s okay to nag sometimes. And get mad sometimes. And say embarrassing things in public on occasion. When they are grown up, they won’t remember exactly how many times you ordered pizza instead of making a homemade meal. They will never know that you lied about an appointment because you didn’t want to chaperone the grade 3 trip to the Museum of Natural History. They will forgive you for the bad do-it-yourself hair trims and for making them wear snow pants to school when nobody else had to.
So, on Mother’s Day, accept your breakfast in bed with grace (but feel free to feed the bacon to the dog if it looks a little undercooked). Know that you have earned those “free hug” coupons and tissue paper flowers. Embrace the moment like you are Sally Fields at the Oscars, because you are a superstar. Motherhood is hard. It is not for the faint of heart. And there is no perfect mother. We are each like snowflakes, unique and imperfect, but beautiful.